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Joseph Beuys. Lebenslauf = Werklauf
A Tribute to Joseph Beuys on the Twentieth Anniversary of his Death

21.01.2006 to 23.04.2006

Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart
Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

Since the opening of the Hamburger Bahnhof in 1996 the ensemble of works by Joseph Beuys assembled from the holdings of the Marx Collection and the National Gallery has constituted a central point of reference for the museum's activities. As one of the great visionaries of the twentieth century and founder of the expanded concept of art, Beuys has a determining influence on the Hamburger Bahnhof's mission to document the boundary-breaking concepts of Late Modernism. In the twentieth anniversary year of the death of Joseph Beuys (12.5.1921 - 23.1.1986) the exhibition of works from the holdings of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) recalls the artist who, in his cosmopolitan utopia of social change deriving from the arts, took a radical stance on the nexus of art and politics.

Since 1996 the museum has also housed the Joseph Beuys Media Archive, which was established in collaboration with Eva, Wenzel and Jessyka Beuys and comprises close on all surviving sound and film documentation of the artist's work. By compiling a ten-volume series, the National Gallery is currently working together with the Joseph Beuys Estate to publish some of the most important film documents on DVD. The series includes films conceived by Joseph Beuys as independent works of art on the one hand, and films documenting key actions by the artist on the other.

This tribute to Joseph Beuys presents, alongside the many significant posters held in the collection of the Kunstbibliothek, works including the biographical film "Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler" (Everyone Is an Artist) by Werner Krüger, as well as the film entitled "Eurasianstab" which has recently been released as volume five of the above-mentioned series. On the occasion of his participation at the Fluxus Festival in 1964 in Aachen Beuys first articulated his own self-image in the radical formula "Lebenslauf = Werklauf", which roughly translates as "Life Course = Work Course". He thus considered every aspect of life - making exemplary reference to his own biography - to be a creative process belonging to the realm of art. From that point onwards, art, in his mind, became the quintessential principle of life. The films published by the Joseph Beuys Media Archive deliver a powerful insight into the artist's struggle to establish the relevance of this notion within the processes underlying society as a whole.

The exhibition was made possible by Museum & Location Veranstaltungsgesellschaft der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin mbH. Media partner: WALL AG.